Our minds crave certainty. We want to be able to predict what tomorrow will be like. When something unexpected happens that alters our ability to predict tomorrow, our brains work overtime trying to sort it all out.
We have an emotional reaction to uncertainty, too. We get anxious and worry, feeling threatened and insecure. It could be a change at work that triggers it, something in our personal life, or a national disaster. During uncertain times, our rational brain goes quiet, and our emotional brain takes over.
- Jasmine lost her job
- Omar is recently divorced and is single again—but with 3 children
- Sam just learned his organization has been purchased by another
- Sydney just found out the CEO of his organization, whom she reported to, will be retiring
- Juanita’s mother just moved into a nursing home while dad remains at home
- Sarah’s dad no longer knows who she is
Each of these people is experiencing a personal or professional transition. They’re experiencing uncertainty, yet each will react differently.
There is no certainty in predicting reactions to uncertainty. Why? Because we’re human, and God created us uniquely.
While Sam might be anxious about his job security, Sydney might see the CEO’s retirement as an opportunity for her to become the new CEO. Sarah might experience deep sadness and isolate herself while Juanita becomes visibly irritable and angry.
If you are a leader, accept that those whom you are responsible for need and want certainty. Recognize that their reactions to uncertainty are emotional, not logical.
You will help your team by regularly communicating with them about plans, issues, and challenges. You help them by providing regular and honest feedback about how they’re performing. In all your communication, keep it simple and easy to understand by everyone.
Don’t hide bad news from them. Be candid and honest about it, because transparency is an antidote for certainty concerns. If your team knows you are being candid and honest with them, even in uncertain times, they will trust you.
For us personally, uncertainty is a reminder that we don’t have as much control in our life as we think we do. Our lives are in God’s hands. He wants our trust to be in Him.
From the Lord’s prayer, we are taught, Give us today our daily bread, Matthew 6:11. It’s a reminder that everything I have comes from Him, and tomorrow isn’t promised to me. Yet God promises to be with me, whatever happens.
An uncertain life? Oh, how we hate that. When my life is unpredictable, and I can’t see what tomorrow will bring, I wish I could change that prayer. “Lord, give me my semi-annual bread!” That I’ll know I always have enough to last a long time. But the Bible doesn’t encourage that kind of prayer.
Today we are experiencing uncertainty due to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus and the spring storm season. We are in unprecedented times with schools and major events being canceled. Our world is turned upside down.
God will give us what we need to get through this. He wants us to trust in him, not ourselves.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4)